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Lunfardo: The dialect of Tango

How did Street slang, “lunfardo” latch onto the tanguero lexicon and become an essential part of some of the greatest compositions.

Buenos Aires celebrates its history and heritage, and the dialect that’s grown over the past century on September 5th, Argentina celebrates its “lunfardo”.

Just like with any other language, a melting pot can occur, and several variations on the lexicon begin to appear based on regional, social, or geographic influence. The social context, many times, is one of the larger causes that allow new jargon and vocabulary to appear in society. In Argentina this slang is known as “lunfardo”.

At the end of the XIX century, Buenos Aires saw its streets filled with criollos, afro-argentinians and european migrants. In that same social context, the working class of the country intended to camouflage conversation and began to create terminology to reflect the reality of their situation.

Around that time, tango was starting to surge as a new genre of music, adopting the new words that popular culture was leaving. Tango singer began to relate their lyrics to themes using this slang or lunfardo of the streets. Bars, parks, brothel and even delinquents of the times were known to use these words.

“El Ciruja”, a tango penned by Francisco Aflerdo Marino and composed by Ernesto de la Cruz in 1926, is an example of a piece overloaded with lunfardo. For some, the piece seems almost impossible to decipher. Let’s see:

“Recordaba aquellas horas de garufa
Cuando minga de laburo se pasaba
Meta punga y al codillo escolaseaba”

I hear you ask yourself, “What did i just read?”

Take a breath and let us translate it for you: “He remembered those hours of fun, when there was no work to be had, where thieves gathered to elbow and gambled”.

“EL Ciruja” was popularized by his lyrics about life on the street life and its masterfully sung by Carlos Gardel, Rosita Quiroga, Ignacio Corsini and Julio Sosa. The last of which is considered the best expression of the piece. So we’re sharing it with you to enjoy.Paragraph

Do you know any lunfardo? Share it with us!

© videos credits: Youtube

One Comment

  • Raul Restrepo Valencia

    Como admirador del tango de toda la vida,por haber nacido en una region tanguera,conozco un poco de ese hermoso genero,y el lunfardo me ha gu stado y he tratado de entenderlo,admirando siempre al gran ALBERTO ECHAGUE.De verdad que parece otro idioma,pero igual ocurre aqui cuando se viaja a otra region.

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